With one big playmaker sidelined, a number of others stepped forward to help the Greenfield football team down Whitnall, 31-13, on Sept. 23.
Explosive running back Ezekiel Banks was suspended for the game due to an incident in the previous week's contest, so quarterback Rayvon Bartlett Jr and his corps of receivers picked up the slack and kept the Hustlin' Hawks one step ahead of the Falcons on offense all evening.
Greenfield improved to 4-0 in the Woodland Conference East Division and can claim its second straight division crown by beating Shorewood/Messmer at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at Shorewood High School. The Greyhounds also come in with a 4-0 Woodland East record.
The Hawks also clinched their second consecutive WIAA playoff berth with the victory.
Whitnall fell to 2-2 in the division and must either win at South Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Friday or in a Woodland crossover contest in the regular-season finale to get a playoff berth.
Bartlett was a key factor for the Hawks all evening, completing 20 of 31 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns and collecting 120 yards on the ground, including a 51-yard touchdown.
"Bartlett's doing a very good job," Greenfield coach Shane Covington said. "He needs to work on some things, but he's definitely producing, and his athleticism is taking care of everything."
Whitnall coach John Quinlan said of Bartlett, "He made some big-time plays. I thought we did pretty well keeping him in check, especially on first and second down, but they made some big plays on third down. He threw the ball well tonight, and they made bigger plays than we did."
Bartlett was helped immensely by his deep group of receivers. He threw to seven different players, with Donnie Reasby catching four for 63 yards and two scores, Elijah Rosario five for 100 yards and two touchdowns and Zach Foshey five for 44 yards.
"The receivers weren't getting open in the first half, but in the second half, they got things clicking," Bartlett said.
Covington said, "They (Reasby and Rosario) are definitely doing a good job for us. They know the system and they know the holes to find, so we just have to make sure we're calling the right things to get those guys open."
Still, the Falcons were able to hang with the Hawks for much of the game.
Bartlett gave Greenfield the early lead with his 51-yard scoring run early in the first quarter. He broke to his left, maneuvered through traffic and scored. The point after by Sharif Othman was good for a 7-0 advantage.
On the Hawks' next possession, Bartlett completed 3 of 3 passes for 56 yards, including a couple of passes to Reasby and a 34-yard touchdown toss to Rosario, who was wide open in front of the end zone. The point after was no good, leaving the Hawks up, 13-0.
Whitnall answered with an 80-yard march as Andrew Mallmann, who was returning from injury, worked himself back into the offense. He caught a screen pass from quarterback Jacob Flores for 45 yards, then ran four straight times to the Greenfield 5.
Flores then hit Dan Alexopoulos in the right corner of the end zone to cut the deficit to 13-6.
Whitnall had another opportunity right after that when a bad snap led to a short punt, leaving the Falcons on the Greenfield 23. They were unable to move, though, and a 47-yard field goal attempt was no good.
"We had a couple opportunities," Quinlan said. "We got near the red zone but couldn't punch it in a couple of times."
Greenfield tried to score before the half but bogged down at the Whitnall 33, and a 50-yard field goal attempt by Othman was just short.
Bartlett directed another drive on the Hawks' first possession of the second half and threw a 16-yard pass to Rosario to put his team up 19-6.
The Falcons again responded with a grinding 72-yard, 18-play drive with Mallmann at quarterback. He found Stephan Flores with a 7-yard scoring pass to cut the margin to 19-13.
Greenfield came right back with a 64-yard march, with Bartlett hitting all four of his passes for 55 yards, including an 18-yard scoring toss to Reasby.
A few plays later, Reasby came through on defense with an interception, setting up his own 23-yard touchdown which made it 31-13 with 9:54 left in the game.
Whitnall was then stopped on downs at the Greenfield 49 and 29 and the Hawks ran out the clock.
For the Falcons, Jacob Flores completed 6-of-12 passing for 103 yards and Mallmann 6-of-11 for 44 yards. Stephan Flores caught six passes for 58 yards.
The Greenfield defense was paced by Michael Zamora with 10 tackles and Elijah Valero with eight tackles. For Whitnall, Devin Breitenstein collected four tackles and a sack and Adam Pelkofer five tackles.
Greenfield will now get ready to play Shorewood/Messmer for the East Division crown.
"Those are definitely two good teams, and we're just going to go out there and try to get it done," Covington said.